The Weight of a Human Heart

The average weight of an adult human’s heart is only about 11 ounces or 310 grams. That is less than one pound. However, anyone who has walked long enough on our broken globe knows that, emotionally and spiritually, the human heart can weigh so much more.

Last night, one line from the poem “In Praise of Self-Deprecation” by Wislawa Szymborska (say that three times fast) resonated with me deeply.

The killer-whale’s heart weighs one hundred kilos /
but in other respects it is light.

Even though a killer whale’s heart is about as massive as a Harley Davidson motorcycle at at an average of 400 pounds, in some respects, the comparatively puny human heart can weigh far more.


The Ones who Carry Weights

Our friends have been in and out of the oncology wing at the local children’s hospital for over 9 months. When I have been privileged enough to visit them on occasion, I shoulder momentarily a sliver of the unthinkable weight their hearts have been holding constantly.

We have been privileged enough to get to know some Syrian families here in the states. While they speak poor English and I speak no Arabic, the weights their hearts carry do not need translation. They worry about how to make ends meet and how to hold on to their culture in a new land; they live with survivor’s guilt, wondering how the people who were left behind are faring.

Even in seasons of plenty and prosperity, human hearts hold weights. Fears of the future, concerns for children and grandchildren, sicknesses both physical and mental. The list is as varied as the people in whose chest cavities hearts pump.

We carry the weight of consciousness. We carry the weight of our own actions and the actions of others. We carry the weights of circumstances. And, even though we don’t like to talk about it in our culture, we carry the weight of being separated from God from whom and for whom we were created.

The One who Carried all Weights

God, being in very nature one whose heart bleeds both mercy and justice, took the weight of the weight of our mistakes and our human condition. He could have let our hearts sink under the crushing weight of sin and its resulting brokenness, but His love compelled Him to send His Christ to us.

Christ was connected to his mother by an umbilical cord until he breathed his first gasp of air, then his heart and lungs worked in concert. His human heart constantly beat in sync with the heart of the Heavenly Father. Because He was not hardened by sin’s nature, His human heart felt more deeply than even the most tender bleeding human hearts.

Yet, He willingly took upon Himself the crushing weight of sin for those who would trust in Him by faith. His tender heart was separated from its vital, eternal connection to His father, a separation far worse than the severing of an umbilical cord.

The heart that had stopped beating sat stagnant for three days, until the Father revived it in the Resurrection. His heart thumped in excitement as He showed Himself first to Mary and then to His disciples.

The One Who Helps Us with our Weights

While He has now ascended into Heaven, His heart remains human. He has not forgotten  the weights carried by His children’s hearts. What Christ once was and did, He still is and does. After all,  He is God immutable who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He who carried weights when on earth still carries weights today.

He sits at the right hand of the throne of His Father and intercedes on behalf of His heavy-hearted children (Hebrews 7:25). He sent His Holy Spirit into the hearts that are His as indwelling weight carrier, a comforter, and a translator of sighs and groans  (Romans 8: 26-27).

While the human heart sometimes feels more weighty than that of the killer whale, we have one who claims our heart twice,  once by creation and  again by redemption. He will carry our weights with us until the day when the human heart surges with full hope, freedom and peace in His bodily presence.

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